Thursday, September 16, 2010

Worldbuilding: Jerklandia

I've decided to jump away from deities for a bit, because honestly those last two posts were just me posting ideas rather than actual polished product. They were alright for half-formed ideas, but I think I'll let them bake for a while and jump back to what caused me to write about deities in the first place: I was planning countries and cities for the setting and wanted to know what drove them.


The reason I wanted evil deities in the first place is because, frankly, every setting needs at least one arsehole. It's not much of a game without challenge and opposition, and in D&D that usually comes in the form of someone to kill. Lots of someones, with any luck.

So, as I lay out an abridged map of the world, I should populate it with jerks.

But what kind of jerks, and where?

Jerks can take many forms. They could be moustache-twirlingly evil, flesh-eating cosmic horrors or just... well, jerks. I know plenty of people who proclaim loudly and proudly that they are trolls, foul-mouthed or just generally obnoxious on the Internet like they are expecting some kind of trophy, to various degrees of success, and I actually kind of like some of them.

(I may even have been that guy, earlier. I kind of remember casually trolling the Tao of D&D guy almost two years ago now over some post of his and then killing a few minutes by trolling one of his comments pages. A waste of time for everyone involved, probably, and so I will extend a sort-of apology by not getting the code for a link to his blog messed up this time. Hooray!)

I already have what I'd guess is the standard D&D fare as far as these things go: rogue tribes of orcs, goblins or whatever else is lying around, hidden cults that worship jerks and so on. What I could use more of are larger-scale threats: Countries with an outlook which would naturally oppose wherever the PCs come from.

So, nongood countries. They'd need government, religion (this is why I was thinking of evil deities), resources and a reason for existing wherever it is they exist in the first place. And, most importantly, some kind of theme. "These guys worship the Devil" is a little more exciting than "These guys star in a series of Youtube videos in which they are mean to people and are proud of it".

Let me use this space to jot down some different ways I could run a country of dickmugs:

Tool Casting [Metamagic]

Simply put, an evil magocracy. They don't necessarily have to dabble in necromancy, though they could be more open to it than others. They probably put power above anything else, look down on those who don't know them, and frequently dive into magics men were not meant to know, or preferably to know but not to fuck around with.

Off the top of my head, the first example that comes to mind is probably Thay.

The Necrocracy

Title stolen shamelessly from a TVTropes article which neatly explains the concept for me.

I kind of like the Real Life example though: North Korea's Eternal President, although he's just the normal kind of dead."

The Dicktator

Less about the country and more about the guy in charge. He's a villain, he wants to take over the world or something, and he happens to possess a respectably-sized nation with its own standing army. Is probably more likely to take over the world than the average jerk.

Has it always been like that, though? Did this guy sieze power and abuse a relatively benign country for his own ends or is it the kind of place that always was a pretty shitty place before he took over? Who knows.

Monster Island

Here be dragons! Or goblins. Or... Whatever it is, non-humans feature a lot here. Probably dragons, really. Any kind of dragon! Doesn't even have to be a chromatic dragon. Maybe a gold dragon!

This could just end up being the Necrocracy with non-undead, of course. Hmmm...

Soviet Orcia

A friend just suggested this. I have no idea what this would actually involve but it sounds awesome.

Honey Badgers

Maybe I shouldn't ask /tg/ for ideas.

The Church of Yog-Hadar, Democratic Party Edition

A theocracy. What kind of evil patron they would have I am not sure yet - maybe Zoxxoth, I hear that guy's church has a dental plan that will knock your socks off - but if I threw this in, it could be interesting. Off the top of my head, patron candidates include gods, demons, devils, yugoloths, demodands, hordlings, modrons, Far Realm weirdness, vestiges, Apomps the Three-Sided God, baernaloths, and 4th Edition oh snap!

Just A Different Outlook

They don't have to all be so evil they tie women to lightning rails. Maybe they're neutral-ish and just happen to be warlike. Maybe they're nice but practice slavery. Maybe they just don't see non-citizens (and by extension, everyone outside their borders) as having legal rights. Maybe they're non-humans with a legitimate claim to nearby human (or another nice people's) land.

Maybe they're just douchebags.

Nobody Here But Us Alignments

On the other hand, maybe they are evil and don't have a theme. Maybe they're not theocrats or mages or honey badgers. Maybe it is just a perfectly reasonable government which happens to be in the end of the alignment scale most PCs don't get to access.

Actually, this is making me feel like writing an actual post on villainy in general, but maybe I should put that on hold for a bit. Instead, next time I will see if I feel like actually using any of this.


Mozai said...

One person's "evil" is another person's "good" or just "self-interested." The dude that wrote 'Spirited Away' and 'Princess Mononoke' got some great villians who weren't "bya-ha-ha" moustache twirlers, so much as they were looking out for themselves and the people under their care, and that necessarily meant stepping on other people. The happy ending in Myazaki's stories would come from the hero convincing the "bad guy" to change their mind.

Every successful culture has a "treat each other right" golden rule, but everyone in that culture will make exceptions for outsiders. Samurai, klingons, orcs, kobolds, devils, all probably very honorable with their own, but with gai-jin, pinkskins, elves, nondracos, primes... more important that my tribe doesn't go hungry, even if that means you gotta starve.

Ettin said...

Yeah, I was thinking of seeing how far I could push that and maybe make an enemy out of some kind of LG state or something.

Might be pushing it though.

TheAmazingEveryman said...

Hey Ettin, I got A story for ya. but rather then drone on about it here, I'll just post the 4chan link:

Ettin said...

Oh god, by the time I got there it was a 404.


TheAmazingEveryman said...

Was afraid of that. Ah well, I'll give you a more abridged version.

What happened was that I got recruited for a game on IRC, but literally minutes before the game, the guy running it disappears. No warning. My theory being his computer was kidnapped by ninja's, and so far it seems he wasn't a bad enough dude to get it back.

A few days go by, players stop showing up in the channel. I didn't think it was fair for everyone who worked on characters to get canceled on such short notice. So I did something drastic.
I took over as DM. Despite having no experience.

I get the ok from the remaining players, one gets his roomate in on it, and i got a party of 3, who all decided to be elves for lulz.

My Inquisitor gets a job to shank the governor, the witch gets herself kidnapped for ransom, and the alchemist stubles onto their hideout.

Come the only encounter that session, its them plus 3 police constructs(Patcons) against the thieves and their hired muscle, a minotaur grappler, who kicks things off dynamic entreeing one of the cons from a 2story window.

Iquisitor watermelons lead bandits head, witch and her 6 hp takes on nearly every enemy inside the hideout after her familiar cut her bonds, alchemist got shot, and the Mino suplexed on con into another before running off.
And that was how my very first campaign ended.
Also, have a doodle:
(the inquis. player drew this)

Ettin said...

Nice! Did that guy ever come back?

TheAmazingEveryman said...

Still no sign of him. Next session is tomorrow night.
Gonna try to not wing shit as much.

I think even if he does come back, I'll keep running the game. It's more fun than I would have thought, and the others seem to be having a blast.

Ettin said...

I would make suggestions but this sounds like Warhammer, which I haven't played. :( Just heard of it on /tg/ all the time.

TheAmazingEveryman said...

haha, no, its Pathfinder. The guy just had a steampunk esque setting set up, and I just ran with it.

I'm actually having more problems with the irc. I noticed halfway through the game that the dicebot wasn't in our channel anymore. I couldn't figure out what to do so we ended up using real dice. this was a problem for me cause the only dice I had were from a monopoly game.

I found out the command to call it back, but it seems it only works when the DM is present, and that would be the guy who's missing. so im at a bit of a loss